The Hermitage dwelling embodies original colonial architecture that is both important and limited in Virginia Beach today. Located across an inlet from the Adam Thoroughgood house, it is a one and a half story wood-frame house that was constructed in three stages. The history of the house began in 1635, when Adam Thoroughgood was able to receive a land grant to what now is Virginia Beach. Later in 1699, John Thoroughgood built a house on his portion of Adam Thoroughgood’s “Grand Patent”. When the Moseley family live in the house in 1820, they doubled the size of the dwelling, added a federal-style crown molding and recessed panel wainscoting throughout the house, and a central passage. More modern additions accompanied the house in 1940 when indoor plumbing and a kitchen was added. There are also three outbuildings and a subterranean brick cistern that is a part of the basement. The original property remained a working farmhouse until the mid-1950s, where it then transitioned to more modern development that serves as private housing for the family now living in it.
Before Colonial use of the land in Virginia Beach today, the Native American tribe known as the Chesapeake occupied the land along the Lynnhaven River and Great Neck area. English explorers first arrived in Virginia in 1607. As the settlers migrated east, they established settlements near both the Elizabeth and Lynnhaven rivers by 1630. Along with 3 other men, Adam Thoroughgood was one of the first people to move permanently into the eastern area. Thoroughgood and these men developed their own way of living through setting up trade and establishing homes adjacent to the Lynnhaven River.
Adam Thoroughgood was born in 1602 in Grimston, Norfolk, England. His father worked as a vicar at St. Botoph’s church. He arrived in Virginia around 1621 on the Charles ship where he worked as an indentured servant for Edward Waters. Three years after he finished his work, he returned back to England to marry Sarah Offley. He later moved to the Elizabeth city area to build a 200 acre farm.
The mechanism that allowed Thoroughgood to later obtain a land grant is described in Stephen S. Manfield’s work of Princess Anne County and Virginia Beach, stating
“In 1628, presumably drawing on the dowry Sarah brought to their marriage, he began paying for the transportation of other English men and women to Virginia. By 1635, he could petition for grant of 5,350 acres of land lying west of the Lynnhaven River in South Hampton Roads, basing his claim on the 50-acre “headright” for each of the 105 persons he had transported.” 14
From his explanation, it is understood that Thoroughgood was able to petition for a land grant only by funding transportation arrangement of men and women from England to Virginia using his marriage dowry.
On June 24, 1635, Thoroughgood’s land patent was granted by the Privy Council of England for a piece of land near the western branch of the Lynnhaven River. House construction also began around 1635, which might be located near Bayville Golf Club today. He moved on to serve in the House of Burgesses and Governor’s Council, dying in 1640. His son, Lt. Col. Adam Thoroughgood 2 inherited the land and estate that his father left him. The inherited land was then divided among his six sons in the 1670s. His oldest son, Argall, received the manor house and lands. His second oldest son, John, received the Hermitage property and built his own house.